Mazda, which launched its first passenger car, the R360 Coupe, on the market in 1960, introduced the Carol in 1962 and Familia (Mazda 800) in 1964, and steadily developed models from this base thereafter.
On August 20, 1966, Mazda introduced a flagship model known as the Luce. The body style, characterized by an "A line" connecting front, center and rear pillars, was based on a Bertone original design from Italy, which was modified by Mazda's designers to suit the company's tastes.
The model name, taken from the Italian "Luce" — meaning bright or shiny — was fitting for such a modern, elegantly designed car that radiated a dazzling personality and was far superior to the Japanese car standard at the time. It was the only car in the 1,500cc class with a spacious interior capable of accommodating six occupants. Among its many notable advances, the Luce featured a newly designed SOHC engine (first in this class) that produced 78ps maximum power and took the car to maximum speed of 150 km/h.
Launch of the Luce Rotary Coupe, "Lord of the Road"
The hardtop coupe version of the Luce with a 655cc x 2 new rotary engine, known as the Luce Rotary Coupe, was launched three years later in October 1969. Mazda used the compactness of the new rotary engine — which delivered 126ps maximum power and accelerated the car to 190 km/h maximum speed — for the first time here in a front-engine front-wheel-drive format. In an age when new company employees straight from university earned just 30,000 yen a month, the Luce Rotary Coupe, costing from 1.45 to 1.75 million yen, was dubbed "Lord of the Road" for its high price, beautiful body and high-speed performance. The car was shown not only at auto dealers but also at 35 major department stores throughout Japan, and gained a reputation for its elegant form. With its distinctive personality, the Luce Rotary Coupe entered the luxury personal car market that was emerging at the time.
The Luce Rotary Coupe